The onboarding process is a journey your users have to go through from the moment they sign up, until they reach the “Aha!” or “Wow! moment”.
Unless you will be able to guide users to their desired outcome, there’s a very slim chance any of them will return in the long-term.
Here are 21 resources that will help you gain a better understanding about user onboarding, and everything that’s involved into providing a great first-time experience for your customers:
1. User Onboarding Academy
The Appcues User Onboarding Academy is the place to start if you want to get an in-depth understanding of everything that’s involved in the user onboarding process.
This series will walk you through examples and best practices of how a good user onboarding process guides the user to the “Aha! Moment”. You will also learn about user psychology and how to use email to assist the users who are dropping off or abandoning the onboarding process.
Make sure you read the whole thing before making any rash decision to your user onboarding. The lectures from the Academy cover multiple factors that influence the onboarding process.
Appcues update their blog on a regular basis. Here are some of our favorite articles:
- Why User Onboarding is the Most Important Part of the Customer Journey by 2.6x: have you ever considered changing the way you look at retention? What if you begin optimizing your user retention during the onboarding process?
- Finding Your Product’s First WOW Moment: a framework to help you identify when your customers are experiencing the WOW Moment.
- 42 Essential User Onboarding Tools to Drive Your App’s Growth: use them wisely, sometimes they could end up doing more harm than good.
2. Intercom on Onboarding
Intercom have established themselves as a thought leader when it comes to everything related to delighting your customers. They’ve published multiple books, and their latest one is Intercom on Onboarding.
Onboarding was and is the one truly universal problem every piece of software has. It’s the only one thing literally all your customers are going to do, and you’re guaranteed thousands of your users will run into some kind of difficulty with it.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried every marketing technique in the book, if you’re not onboarding users successfully it counts for nothing. Why would you invest so much in trying to attract users, but not go the extra step and try to keep them?
Des makes it pretty clear that there’s no point in spending lots of money to acquire new users if you’re not able to make them stick around and actually use your product. This is a very valuable lesson which we’ve often seen as being overlooked by many SaaS companies.
Intercom takes a holistic approach towards the user onboarding process, they will show you how you need to think about it, and why it is the most important interaction that a user will have with your product. A definite must read for anyone involved in growing a SaaS product.
We also recommend you have a look at Intercom’s other articles about user onboarding:
- From signed-up to satisfied: satisfying your users’ expectations can be a daunting task. It takes a lot of work, but focusing on high impact work is what worked for Intercom.
- Strategies for onboarding new users: there is no particular onboarding strategy that works for every company. This post will show you a few places you could do research to understand what your users are looking for, so that you’ll be able to match their expectations.
- Ways to think about customer onboarding: onboarding is more than just walking the user through your product’s features. You need to design a journey at the end of which he will achieve his desired outcome.
3. User Onboard
Samuel Hulick’s onboarding teardowns have gained a lot of attention in the SaaS community. UserOnboard is the place where you will find the most detailed onboarding teardowns. Samuel walks you through every single aspect of the onboarding process: design, copywriting, usability, among other.
The teardowns are presented in a very entertaining fashion, and you will be able to see how the most popular apps guide their new users through their first experience with the product.
New teardowns are updated regularly so be sure to check back from time to time.
Here at InnerTrends we help SaaS companies fuel their growth by showing them what’s holding back them back from onboarding more users. We believe that the easiest way to hack your growth is to efficiently onboard more users.
You only have one first impression, make it count. If you invest a lot of money in user acquisition but you’re not able to onboard them, you’re just leaking money and it’s only a matter of time until your app’s growth will hit a plateau.
From what we’ve learned, there are multiple factors that influence the user’s perception during the onboarding process. The promises you make on your SaaS landing page will set the expectations he will have from your app.
The blank state page the user sees after the onboarding process will be his first interaction with your product. If the onboarding process has been awesome but this page is intimidating, it will add a lot of friction and it’s very likely that the user will abandon the process.
How much friction you can afford to ask your users to overcome depends on your product’s reputation. If your app is well-established, maybe you can afford to ask your users to provide more information upfront, maybe even ask for their credit card. If that’s not the case and you’re an up & coming SaaS looking to design their first onboarding process, you might want to read our Growth Hacker’s Guide to Onboarding Your First 100 Users
In their short series about user onboarding, InVision talk about how the onboarding process is often overlooked when it comes to an app’s design.
The designers and developers who develop digital products have discovered, explored, and defined problems and best practices for a variety of digital experiences. But there’s an element of web and mobile app design that’s still in its (relative) infancy: user onboarding.
cofounder of Fresh Tilled Soil
This generates frustration for the users, who can’t help but give up when they can’t understand how the app works. The blame for this is often passed around inside the companies. This relates a lot to what we found out while trying to help companies optimize their onboarding process.
InVision’s intro to user onboarding emphasises why it’s important for your users to understand how your product works.
A Quick Guide To Successful User Onboarding for SaaS Products : Tommy Walker of ConversionXL talks about how the most common reasons that cause your customers to churn are under your control, and they all can be traced back to specific flaws in the onboarding process:
Part of the problem could be that you just dropped them into the SaaS app, and hoped they’d figure it out for themselves. Or, maybe you did do some onboarding, but failed to deliver the “Wow” experience that your marketing sold them on.
Much of this can be solved by creating a solid customer onboarding flow & a compelling first run experience.
Breaking the onboarding process into smaller steps will make your job a lot easier if you want to find out what’s driving user away from your app. Start tracking their interactions and look for opportunities to make it easier for them to onboard your app.
User Onboarding Flow Examples (With Critiques): Shanelle Mullin breaks down six onboarding flows and analyzes every step of the onboarding process. If you want to get a deeper understanding of the thought process that should be put behind your onboarding strategy, then this article is a must read.
Growth Hacking: Creating a Wow Moment: Identifying your product’s “Wow!” or “Aha! Moment” might not be so easy as it seems. What you consider to be the “Wow!” moment might not generate the same excitement for your user. This detail is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important aspects of the onboarding process.
After you identify your user’s “Wow!” moment, you will have to find the shortest path to take him there. It’s your job to guide him to this journey as quickly as possible, and also reduce the effort he has to put in to get there.
David Skok’s article provides a great template for which you can use to identify the “Wow!” moment, track it, and then optimize it based on the data you collect.
Lessons learned from 50 user onboarding flows: Giving people what they want might sound like an easy thing to do. However, most apps fail to deliver what they’ve been promised on their landing page.
The users sign up expecting to reach a certain outcome. Each step they have to take to get to that outcome will increase the friction and it makes them less likely to move on to the next step.
J. Michael Probert analyzed 50 user onboarding flows and published his findings on the pilot.co blog
9. Digital Telepathy
X Flows: How to Turn Onboarding into an Amazing First Date with Your User: There are many approaches to approach the design of your onboarding process. Nevertheless, you need to make sure it’s enjoyable for your users and that they won’t be confused when you ask them to perform a certain action within the app.
Onboarding is your first date with your user — you don’t want to talk their ear off and you want to be as charming as possible. Simply put: tell the user only what they need to know, in as few words as you can, to make them like you. And be as witty or delightful as you can while doing it.
UX designer at Digital Telepathy
10. How To Streamline User Onboarding from KISSMetrics
You’ve made your sale, but can you guide the customer through and actually get him to use your product?
Khadim from WhatFix shares 7 tips you can implement to make sure that customers stick with you for the long-term.
11. WPCurve’s Beginner Guide to Customer Onboarding
Your customer takes a risk when he decides to sign up and pay for your product. Does your product have what it takes to provide an amazing experience and make that customer return?
Vinay Koshy of WPCurve shares a framework SaaS companies can use to make your product so sticky that customers won’t even think about leaving you:
Done right, customer onboarding can resolve these issues. It starts when a user signs up and receives their welcome email, and can continue for a period till the customer is acquainted with how to use the product or service and the benefits of doing so. The goal is to help customers by:
- Explaining what some or all features do
- Provide insight into the functionality of the product/service
- Guide the user through using the product/service effectively
- Create engagement with the product/service
- Build trust
- Set expectations
- Foreshadow their experience
- Wow them
12. HelpScout’s Blog
Are You Making These 5 Common User Onboarding Mistakes?: We’ve mentioned a lot of resources that tell you how to set up your onboarding process, but SAMUEL HULICK’s post on HelpScout will tell you what NOT to do when it comes to user onboarding.
Avoiding these five most common mistakes could literally save you thousands of dollars.
User Onboarding Isn’t a Feature: There are companies out there who treat onboarding as a feature of their product, a thing that they plan to work on sometime in the future. This is a huge mistake. Your user onboarding process should constantly evolve as your product changes.
If you roll out fundamental changes to your product, maybe you should also have a look at your onboarding strategy and see if it needs to be adjusted accordingly.
13. The Best in User Onboarding from GrowHack
A presentation outlining the best practices and actionable tips for startups looking to improve their customer onboarding process.
14. 10 Great Examples of Customer Onboarding That You Can Learn From from Groove
Groove’s Len Markidan shows you why user onboarding is a journey, and it’s not just about the product or service you provide. It’s about the whole experience your customer goes through while using your product:
You might deliver the best customer service in the world, but if your customer never has the chance to find out, how will they know?
Marketing at Groove
Len showcases 10 examples of different onboarding strategies being properly implemented.
15. Sixteen Ventures
The Secret to Successful Customer Onboarding: Don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s really important to understand exactly what success means for your customer. Your customer’s definition of success might be totally different from yours.
That’s why it’s really important to find out exactly what it means to him. Otherwise, you might not be able to onboard them properly and you will end up losing a lot of business.
There’s a reason the customer signed up for your product. Focus on leading your customer to reach his desired outcome, and it’s a win-win.
If you like Lincoln Murphy’s approach to user onboarding, you’ll also enjoy:
- SaaS Customer Onboarding: 3 Steps to a Successful Welcome Email: the welcome email can be a very powerful tool if it’s used properly. Licoln shares three ideas which you can experiment with if you’re looking to improve your app’s welcome email.
- 5 Steps to Unstick Your User Onboarding Flow: often times users get stuck during the onboarding process. Identifying the blockers and fixing them. The process might be a bit uncomfortable, but at the end of the day you do have to help your users across the chasm.
16. 7 Best Practices You Should Be Using For User Onboarding from GrowhDevil
If your conversion rates are low, the onboarding funnel is one of the places you might have to look. It would be best to look at the data and see the actions the existing users perform before you start spending investing more into acquiring new users.
These 7 best practices will be useful to anyone who is looking at different ways to experiment with user onboarding optimization.
17. 14 Resources for User Onboarding and User Interface Inspiration from Zapier
Are you trying to design your onboarding process but you find yourself needing some inspiration? Fear not, Zapier’s Danny Schreiber put together a list of web & mobile UI blogs which you can browse if you’re looking for some ideas to experiment with.
A publication collecting the best insights on user onboarding posted on Medium. It hasn’t been updated in quite some time, but there are a couple of gems:
- ESSENTIAL ONBOARDING TACTICS — PART 1: PROGRESSIVE ONBOARDING: a really interesting take on the onboarding process for mobile apps. Progressive onboarding could be the best options for complex apps.
- User Onboarding: More Than First User Experience: a different way to approach the onboarding process. Focusing on teaching your user how to use the product should translate into an increase in the adoption rate, which will be reflected by an increase in the revenue.
19. Strategies for Successful SaaS Customer Onboarding from Stunning.co
Having a smooth onboarding process is essential. Users will be looking to achieve the “Aha! Moment” as quickly as possible. They want your product to be simple and they want their issue to be solved yesterday.
Your onboarding process will never be perfect, but it’s important to always look for ways to optimize it and make it easier for customers to reach their desired outcome.
Richard Felix’ useful list of Strategies for Successful SaaS Customer Onboarding will give you some ideas you can experiment with.
20. 13 Tips To Improve User Onboarding From SaaS Leaders from Chargify
A quick roundup where experts like Leo Widrich of Buffer, Alexander Aghassipour of Zendesk, Andrew Capland of Wistia, and others, share their insights on user onboarding.
21. First Time UX
A blog where Krystal Higgins shares a lot of her first user experiences. Be it good or bad, Krystal will walk us through and also tell us her insights about what’s working and what needs to be improved in the product she is testing out.
Krystal also delivered an amazing presentation about user onboarding: New users matter too! Designing better onboarding experiences (Webdagene 2015). There’s a very small window during which you can delight your users, how can you make the most of it? Krystal believes that product teams don’t focus enough on engineering the right experience for the user. The talk is a must watch for anyone involved in UX:
These are our go-to resources on user onboarding. What’s your favorite place to learn more about onboarding? Let us know in the comments below if you think there’s someone we missed.